Christmas has a tendency of sneaking up on me when I least expect it (even though I anticipate it for months on end before it’s even here…), which usually sends me into a tizzy of “Wait, what?!? It’s already mid-December and I have exactly NOTHING ready for Christmas?!”
…and I think (hope) I’m not the only one.
So just know that if you’re panicking about all the Christmas things (including Christmas cleaning) that needs to be done in your house before it’s guest-ready, you’re not alone.
Here are some of the very best holiday cleaning tips to get your house guest-ready fast.
(So you don’t have to spend the entire season leading up to the holidays worrying about how messy your house is. It’s not fun.)
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Here’s the thing…
…a messy house can really wreck that joyful holiday mood that’s so easy to slip into.
You know, when all you want to do is sit back and relax, drinking a steaming cup of hot chocolate and listening to Christmas music while snuggling on the couch in your cozy socks and soft blanket?
(Okay, that might just be a pipe dream – especially if you have mini tornados taking over your house. But it sounds cozy & relaxing anyway.)
But, when your house is a disaster it can be really hard to sit back and relax…
…because as soon as you do, you take one look around and realize how incredibly horrific your house is, and you’re left wondering When (and HOW) did it get so messy?!?
Who knows. All you know is that you need to get it cleaned up, stat. The holidays will be here before you know it and you want to be able to enjoy the season leading up to Christmas, not worrying about a messy house.
So, here are some of the very best holiday cleaning tips that will get you on track to a clean and organized house faster, so that you can enjoy more of the holiday season with your family. (In a nice, clean house.)
How to clean your house for Christmas
Before you dive head-first into feverishly cleaning your house, you’ll want to do one thing:
Stop. Before moving on, gather your Christmas cleaning products and supplies.
Because not much is worse than spending hours trying to convince yourself to clean your house, only to have to stop once you’ve started the momentum because you realize that you don’t have the right supplies.
(Find yourself spending more time trying to get yourself motivated to clean than actually cleaning? Here’s how to get motivated to clean in 13 easy-peasy steps.)
The good news is, you most likely have all these supplies you need for cleaning at home already. However, it’s important that you go over this list to ensure you have the right supplies (because you really don’t need all those fancy, special cleaning supplies. You just need the basics. And a tote to carry them in).
Christmas cleaning supplies
- A cleaning caddy. This will allow you to keep all your other cleaning products together in one place. Instead of running back and forth from one end of the house to the other to grab supplies that you need, you can have everything with you (without having your hands full).
- Microfiber cloths. Some people love them, some people couldn’t care less about them. I like to use my microfiber cloths because they make my life easier because when you dust with microfiber, you don’t have to dust as often since the cloths don’t leave behind any dust-attracting residue like other cloths and rags do.
- Window/mirror cloth. A window and mirror cloth is a smooth cloth that doesn’t leave streaks behind and leaves the surface with a perfectly spotless finish. I use this brand of mirror cloth and I love it, although it is a bit more pricey. For me, it’s worth it, because it gets the job done & leaves my mirrors and windows completely streak-free.
- All-purpose cleaner. If you want to steer clear of chemicals in your house, you could opt for a spray bottle and a simple vinegar/water solution to use for cleaning. Or you can grab this brand of natural cleaner that works for just about every surface.
- Magic eraser. If you have marks on the walls, cabinets, baseboards, granite/quartz countertops, that you thought you had to live with, the magic eraser will (most likely) be able to get rid of them. I love my white quartz countertop, but it can be prone to stains… so I’ve had to use my magic eraser on it a time or two to get rid of pesky stains.
- Paper towels. I personally LOVE these paper towels. They’re soft, big rolls, and the sayings on the package add some humor to my day. I always like to have a handful of paper towels easily accessible while I clean in case I come across a gross mess that I just don’t want to put my nice cleaning rags through.
- Disinfecting wipes. I used to use a disinfecting cleaner to clean every single surface in my bathroom, but what I’m starting to lean more towards now is using disinfecting wipes to clean the toilet (then I don’t need to worry about washing gross toilet rags – I can just toss them), and my all-purpose cleaner to clean the other surfaces.
Once you’ve gathered all your cleaning supplies, you can put them together in your cleaning caddy (if you don’t have something on the list, don’t put off your Christmas cleaning waiting for it – just make do with what you have for now, then order what you need and use it next time you clean) and get off to work.
Now that you’ve got your Christmas cleaning products, it’s time to learn how to deep clean a house for the holidays.
(Because you don’t want to waste your precious time doing tasks that don’t need to be done, but you also don’t want to invite your guests into a germ-ridden household. Here’s exactly what you need to do to clean your house for the holidays…)
Holiday Cleaning Tips
…to get your house guest-ready FAST. Here’s how to clean your house for the holidays, even if it’s a mess right now.
1. Prioritize the rooms
This step is mainly for people who are in a hurry and don’t have time to clean their entire house. If your guests are showing up sooner than you’re ready for, you’ll need to do this.
(If you are prepared and have lots of time before people start showing up, go ahead and move on to the next step and clean your entire house.)
If you’re pressed for time, you’re going to have to prioritize the rooms of your house and decide which ones are most important to be cleaned.
You can decide this by thinking of what rooms your guests will be in. If you just have people dropping by for a quick visit, you would only have to worry about the entryway, kitchen, living room & bathroom.
If you have guests staying for the night, you’d want to clean all the previously mentioned rooms plus the guest room.
So, decide which rooms are the most important, then start with the next step in those specific areas of your house to be sure they get done before guests arrive.
Then, if you end up having more time than you thought, you can move on to the other areas of your house that your guests likely won’t be in, but could still benefit from a good holiday deep clean.
2. First, the clutter
Clutter makes your house look messy, crowded, and claustrophobic, which is exactly what you want to avoid if you’re going to be hosting a lot of people over the holidays (or any time of the year).
It also makes cleaning your house a much more difficult task than it needs to be.
If you have time, use the free resource below to blow through your clutter (for good).
If you don’t have time and you’re looking for a “quick fix”, grab a couple laundry hampers and start collecting items that you don’t need at the moment and you don’t have room for, and stick them in the basket.
Then, hide the basket in your room, in a back closet, or downstairs – anywhere your guests won’t see.
If you do the “quick fix” you’ll have to go through all your clutter after the holidays when your guests have left, because the “quick fix” isn’t much of a fix at all. So, go ahead and grab this free clutter-buster and hang on to it until your guests have left, then viciously attack your clutter.
You’ll feel so much freer once you do.
(If you don’t have enough baskets to hold all the miscellaneous items you need to move out of the way before guests arrive, you can grab some nice ones here.)
Busting your clutter is the first part of this 2-part step.
The second part is using a clutter-catch-all.
This can be something as simple as one of those laundry baskets you have or a prettier basket (if you’re going to keep it out while guests are in your house, I recommend using this).
All you do with your clutter-catch-all is leave it in the room of your house that is the “central point”, that gets used often. (For us that’s the living room.)
Then, you put items into the basket that don’t belong in that room, but you don’t have time to put away. If you’re reading a book but don’t get a chance to put it away, place the book in the basket. If your kids are playing with toys but don’t have time to put them away before guests arrive, put them in the basket.
Everything and anything that you don’t have the chance to put back where it belongs during the day should be put into your “clutter-catch-all”.
(Just make sure you don’t start using this as an excuse to not clean up after yourself throughout the day. This is just to be used if you really don’t have time to clean stuff up.)
Then, at the end of every day, or quickly before guests arrive, grab your clutter-catch-all and walk around the different rooms of your house, putting everything in the basket away where it belongs.
3. Clean the entryway
Regardless of which rooms will be used the most over the holidays, the entryway is likely the most important room, because that is the one room in your house that anyone who drops by will see.
You’ve already decluttered the entryway, so now it’s just a matter of cleaning and tidying it up, which shouldn’t take too long.
Here’s how to clean the entryway:
- Empty the closet
Take all your family’s coats, mitts, shoes, and other belongings out of the entryway closet, and put them somewhere in a back room (if you have a mudroom, now’s the time to utilize it).
This way your guests can easily hang up their coats without having to fight with 50 other winter coats jumping out at them the second they open the closet door.
- Shake out floor mats & deal with the floor
Next, you’re going to want to shake out the floor mat (do this outside) and vacuum the floor. Then you’ll want to mop the floor to get rid of paw prints, mud, and other visible marks on the floor (the entryway is such a high-traffic area that simply vacuuming won’t do the trick to clean floors here).
- Provide a place for shoes
Put the floor mat back in place and put a shoe rack somewhere near the door. This way your guests won’t have to pile their shoes on top of one another to get them out of the way, and it will also keep your floors cleaner since you can keep the rack on your floor mat and keep dirt, mud, and snow from falling on your freshly-mopped floors.
You don’t want anything too big and bulky, or it’ll make your entryway feel crowded and small. But, you don’t want something too small, because if you’re hosting big groups of people, you want everyone to be able to fit their shoes on the rack.
This shoe rack is the perfect way to keep shoes off your floor and out of the way.
4. Clean the kitchen
If the entryway is the highest-traffic area of your house, the kitchen is the runner-up. Everyone stops in to grab their favorite snack, make a hot drink, and dump their dishes.
But not often will they lift a finger to put the dishes away, wipe up spills, or clean out the dishwasher. (Isn’t it funny how that works?)
The kitchen is also very highly used during the holidays, whether you’re baking hundreds of Christmas cookies or you’re making tea for your guests, the kitchen gets used often and left uncleaned even more.
Here’s how you can clean your kitchen (and keep it clean) for the holidays.
You’ll start by cleaning your kitchen just like you normally would – by washing and putting dishes away, wiping the countertops, organizing cupboards, and vacuuming/mopping the floor.
However, when you’ve done all that, there are two more things you should do to ensure your kitchen is spic and span.
Here are two trouble areas you should pay special attention to in your kitchen:
- Clean the stovetop
If you want your kitchen to not only be clean, but also look clean (you can spend hours cleaning your kitchen, but if you forget about the stovetop it’s useless), you need to pay extra attention to the stovetop.
Stovetops with baked-on rings and hard water stains just don’t look good.
And they bring the entire atmosphere of your kitchen down from “Wow, now THAT is a clean kitchen” to “I’ve seen better” (ouch).
For years I struggled with stovetop stains and not being able to get rid of them. I tried countless homemade solutions as well as store-bought cleaners specially made for glass stovetops.
But I could never get mine to come clean.
Which makes me happy to share with you the stove-top cleaner I finally found that ACTUALLY works.
Unfortunately for all my DIY-ers, this is a store-bought brand of cleaner and I haven’t found a homemade solution that works (yet).
But, this brand of cleaner works so well I don’t have plans of venturing away from it anytime soon:
This is the stovetop cleaner I have found to work best over the years – so if you need something to take seriously burnt-on food off of your stove, this is it.
However, if you have a homemade solution or a different brand that actually works for you, feel free to continue using what works… just make sure you get that stovetop clean.
- Clean out the microwave
Microwaves slowly become dirtier and dirtier over time if not wiped cleaned regularly, but it can often seem like they become an enormous mess overnight.
Either way, if you’ve spent any time trying to scrub at those food particles and spills that seem to be leeched to the inside of your microwave, you know the reason why your microwave is such a mess: because it sucks to clean.
But, cleaning them out can be much easier than you may think (and is something you should definitely be doing)… you just need a couple tricks.
First, place one part vinegar to one part water in a glass bowl, mug, or measuring cup. (Make sure it’s microwave safe.) I like to do half a cup of white vinegar to half a cup of water.
Then, place it in the microwave and turn the microwave on high for about 5 minutes (if after 5 minutes is up the stains are still stuck, do another 3 – 5 minutes).
After the time is up, remove the vinegar/water mixture from the microwave using an oven mitt and hot pad, and grab your kitchen cleaning cloth to wipe the inside of your microwave clean.
All that vinegar-y steam should have loosened everything that was stuck on right up, so you can easily wipe them off.
5. Clean the living areas
For the living and dining rooms, you’ll want to gather all your decorative throw pillows and blankets and clean them – the blankets should be able to go straight into the washing machine (check labels first), and if the pillows have cases, take the cases off and wash them. If the cases aren’t removable, read the labels.
Some throw pillows are safe to wash and dry, while others aren’t. If yours aren’t you can take them outside and brush them off to clean them.
Next, if you have upholstery furniture, you will want to break out the vacuum and vacuum it (this collects dust, dirt, hair, and everything else that has gotten ground into the cushions and between the cushions over the year). Be sure you use the crevice tool (this thing) while vacuuming your furniture.
If you have leather furniture, use a good leather polish to clean and shine it.
Now you’re going to move on to dusting the windowsills, railings, picture frames, electronics, and anything else that needs to be dusted in the living areas.
If you have time, now is a great time dust baseboards as well. If you’re pressed for time, save that for later.
(When you do dust your baseboards, you can save your back by using this tool.)
6. Clean the bathrooms
Now it’s time to move on to cleaning the bathrooms.
Focus first on the bathroom that your guests will be using, then move on to the other bathroom(s) in the house.
Usually, you would start cleaning the bathroom by spraying everything with your bathroom cleaner and then wiping everything down. But, since this is a bit more of a thorough clean, you’re going to want to clean the bathroom in a different order than usual.
First, if there is any grout in your bathroom, you’ll want to apply grout cleaner to the grout. (If you don’t have any, you can make a homemade grout paste by mixing 1/2 cup baking soda with 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide then rub the paste onto the grout.
After it has sat for about 10 minutes, grab your grout brush and get to scrubbing (I highly recommend investing in a good grout brush – like this one – but, if you don’t have one and absolutely don’t want to get one, you can use an old toothbrush to clean the grout, it just won’t be quite as perfectly clean).
Okay, now that the grout is back to its beautiful old self (did you even remember what color the grout originally was before you started scrubbing it?), it’s time to clean the shower and tub.
At this point, you can spray down the counter and sink, the mirror, toilet, and apply toilet bowl cleaner into the toilet.
While the cleaner sits on the surfaces, you’re going to spray the shower/tub down with your shower cleaner. You want something that works hard to get rid of that soap slime ring that seems to appear on every bathtub known to man.
Spray your cleaner into the tub, then go back and wipe down all the other surfaces in the bathroom, as well as clean the toilet.
Now you’re going to face the tub (I find my cleaner works the best when I let it sit for AT LEAST 10 minutes before I start scrubbing at it). Grab a soft scrubby or scrub brush (I use this) and attack that soap ring.
Once it’s gone, start at the top of the shower/tub and wipe your way down the walls until you reach the bottom, then wipe everything towards the drain.
Finally, you’ve got to do something about that hair-collecting drain.
My suggestion? Before your guests show up, grab this tubshroom and put it in the drain.
Drains collect hair and everything else, and when they get too much built up, they can drain really sl-oooo-wly.
And have you ever had to unscrew the drain plug to pick hair out of the drain? It’s not fun.
Either way, make sure your drain is draining fast and isn’t clogged up before your guests arrive.
7. Clean the guest room
If you have company staying with you over the holidays, you definitely want to make sure you add the guest room to your Christmas cleaning checklist.
Wash the sheets, put out new towels, make the bed with fresh linens, dust the windowsills and picture frames empty the garbage can in the room.
Now that you’ve blasted your way through these holiday cleaning tips, it’s time for a couple holiday organization tips… how to keep your home organized during the holidays.
Here are my top 4 tips to stay organized during the holidays:
Use a small basket
For Christmas cards. Place this basket on the kitchen counter, in the entryway, or in the living room. Somewhere that you can still see the cards, but they aren’t cluttering up your home. This is especially important if your family tends to get a lot of cards at Christmas. This way you can keep them all out, but they aren’t getting knocked off of surfaces or lost.
Before guests arrive, stock the bathrooms with toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, and hand soap. Grab yourself an extra dish soap to store under the sink, and make sure you have enough all-purpose cleaner to last you through the holidays.
You’ll also want to go out and grab some extra Perk paper towels for cleaning up the inevitable spills that will happen over the holidays.
Pull out seasonal dishes
All those adorable dishes you’ve been so eager to use all year can FINALLY be pulled out and used… just make sure you give them a quick rinse before doing so.
Cook in advance
If you want to keep your house clean over the holidays so that surprise visitors don’t walk into a baking-war-room, try doing most of your holiday baking and meal prep in advance, then store everything in the freezer to keep it fresh until it’s needed.
Learning how to clean your house for the holidays isn’t a daunting task at all – and when it comes down to it, you want to focus on the areas of your house that your guests will see and be in.
Ideally, you would be able to clean your whole house, but realistically, you may not have time. So, do what you can do and try to get the main areas done and out of the way first.
Remember when you’re cleaning the goal is to keep things as simple as possible – cleaning the house doesn’t have to be complex, and holiday cleaning is no different.
I’d love to know, what are some of your favorite holiday cleaning tips that you use every year?